TCHAIKOVSKY: Rococo Variations in A Major; Andante Cantabile, Op. 11; Pezzo Capriccioso; Nocturne; SAINT-SAENS: Cello Concerto No. 1 in A Minor; GINASTERA: Pampeana No. 2–Rhapsody – Sol Gabetta, cello/ Munich Radio Orch./Ari Rasilainen – RCA

by | Apr 19, 2007 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

TCHAIKOVSKY: Rococo Variations in A Major, Op. 33; Andante Cantabile, Op. 11; Pezzo Capriccioso, Op. 62; Nocturne, Op. 19, No. 4; SAINT-SAENS: Cello Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 33; GINASTERA: Pampeana No. 2–Rhapsody for Violoncello and String Orchestra – Sol Gabetta, cello/ Munich Radio Orchestra/ Ari Rasilainen – RCA 82876759512, 64:39 ****:

Argentine cellist Sol Gabetta (b. 1981), a pupil of David Geringas, is pretty to look at, and she makes pretty sounds. She performs the standard, corrupted version (a la Fitzenhagen) of the Rococo Variations, where she manages very suave flute tone, slides, and all sorts of registration shifts with remarkable ease and a noble line. When the Andante variation appears , with flute and pizzicato string accompaniment, we are in the presence of a secure musical personality. A fresh, breezy optimism permeates Gabetta’s playing, all sunshine. Cello and flute vie for sheer, delightful hustle at the last, bubbles and licorice. The arrangement (by Walter Wallenweber) of the Andante cantabile from the Op. 11 String Quartet traverses familiar sentiments. The Pezzo capriccioso has an elastic, charming schwung, or motor lilt, that keeps us in thrall. Light fingers and light feet in the virtuosic middle section. The microphone placement is a tad close, as we can hear every strike on Gabettta’s fingerboard. The Nocturne bears a strong melodic kinship with Eugen Onegin, especially Lenski’s aria. When the flute enters, we have a lovely pas de deux, a song for Swan Lake.

After the calm of the Nocturne, the Saint-Saens explodes on the sonic scene with any number of nimble triplets, the main melody sweet as French pastry can be. A dainty minuet leads to a wild ride of the D Major finale. The big tune in the last movement Gabella milks for its wistful melancholy. Gabella’s smooth sound at several points reminds me of the late Gregor Piatagorsky, which is saying something. Ginastera’s Pampeana No. 2 (1950) fuses visions of the Argentine pampas with a volatile technique and coloration that owes something to Ernest Bloch. The eight-minute piece breaks into four sections, with the cellos often careening off in drunken reverie over a panoply of orchestral effects. Some of the cantilenas could easily be mistaken for poetic musings by Heitor Villa-Lobos–ravishing!

— Gary Lemco

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